Tidal Electricity: Maybe It’s Time Green Technology Just Goes With The Flow
By: Bethany Colson, Managing Editor of LuxEcoLiving.com
What sounds better than clean, green, eco-conscious energy produced from the natural power of ocean currents in a way that protects the environment, promotes energy independence and generates jobs for local economies? Harnessing the power of the ocean to generate abundant, renewable and sustainable energy sounds pretty good to me. Sign me up!
Ocean Renewable Power Company is one company that is looking to do just that. Using the same science and technology as wind turbines, ORPC has developed a modular system of Turbine Generator Units, or TGUs, that use rotating foils to power a central permanent magnet generator. While similar to wind turbines, this promising new green technology offers exponential benefits, as water is 800 times as dense and tides are much more consistent.
With a commitment to protecting the marine eco-system, ORPC’s TGUs use all composite materials that resist corrosion in fresh and salt water. There is no danger of toxic chemical emissions, as these gearless systems need no lubricants or petroleum products of any kind to operate, therefore they leave the natural balance of the ocean or river floor unharmed. Hence, they have the cleanest, most stable of all methods of producing tidal electricity. TGU’s can be placed at various depths and do not require any damming that is otherwise known to negatively affect marine environments.
TGUs are made in a range of sizes to respond to any marine ecosystem demands. A smaller TGU, called RivGen™ Power System, can generate electricity at small river sites. This is especially promising for remote communities with no large or centralized power grid.
OCGen™ Power System, the largest and most powerful of the green technology modular systems, can produce 1,000 kW in a 6-knot water current in depths that exceed 80 feet. Stacked units are connected to an on-shore substation through a single underwater cable.
Working with all levels of government partnership, Maine, Alaska and Florida are currently generating tidal electricity through the installation, testing and monitoring of ORPC’s technology.